Nearby smallbusinesses eligible for federal loans

Small businesses in Hennepin and several adjacent counties are eligible to receive assistance.

Anna Ewart

Small businesses financially injured by the Aug. 1 Interstate 35W bridge collapse are eligible for federal loans.

Small businesses in Hennepin and several adjacent counties are eligible if they are unable to meet financial obligations due to the collapse, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

In August, a number of local businesses requested assistance through the city of Minneapolis, according to a memorandum from the Minneapolis Department of Planning and Economic development.

Eligible businesses can receive up to $1.5 million.

These businesses include the Cedar Cultural Center, the North Country Co-op, and the Dinkytown Business Association – a representative for several small businesses.

John Hausladen, president of the Minnesota Trucking Association, said route changes have cost trucking companies money.

However, he said many companies are not applying because the cost of the federal loans is higher than the cost of damages.

The interest rate for the federal loans is 4 percent, and they require repayment in 30 years or less. According to the SBA, businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible for the loan.

SBA spokesman Carl Sherrill said 25 small businesses have requested loan applications so far, and four have submitted completed applications. The loans come directly from the U.S. Department of the Treasury. He said the federal loans have lower interest rates than other available loans.

“Most of the businesses affected probably won’t come to us for another month or two,” Sherrill said. “Once they do their end-of-the-year books, it’ll probably motivate them to come to us.”

The deadline for loan applications is May 22.

Businesses that operate in the Mississippi River were directly and financially impacted by the collapse.

David Lawrance, owner and operator of Paradise Charter Cruises and the Minneapolis Queen, said he is in the process of applying for a federal loan.

His business conducts public and private cruises along the river, which reopened to his boats last week.

He said his business will have an estimated $100,000 in losses this year.

“The event was pretty catastrophic,” Lawrance said.

Mary Colón, owner of Audubon Coffee, said she doesn’t plan to apply for the loans, nor do any of the other small-business owners she knows.

Her business, located off I-35W, has had significantly fewer customers since the collapse, she said.

“You can’t dig yourself out of debt by incurring more,” she said.

Jim Surdyk, owner of Surdyk’s Liquor Store and Gourmet Cheese Shop, said he isn’t sure if he will apply for the loans because he isn’t sure of total losses at this point.

Surdyk said his business, which is located about 10 blocks from the collapse site, has decreased significantly since the bridge collapsed.

“It’s just something we have to deal with,” he said.

Bob Lind, director of business finance for the Department of Planning and Economic Development, said the city of Minneapolis also offers loans to small businesses.

A city loan, with a 2 percent interest rate, is the most popular. However, the city loans come with a stipulation; they cannot be used for working capital – which means the loan is available for things like remodeling, but not economic damages.

Lind said his department has been trying to provide loan information to small area businesses since the collapse.